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Are Dental Implants Right for You?

How Do I Know If Dental Implants Are Right for Me?

The majority of adults have lost one tooth or more. The CDC reports that two-thirds of those under the age of 65 have one or more teeth missing, and almost 20 percent of those over 65 are missing all of their teeth. Your teeth are more than just aesthetic—they’re an integral part of having good overall health, so it’s important to replace them if they’re damaged or missing.

Your oral surgeon will evaluate your teeth and gums to determine if implants are feasible for you. If you’re in good health overall, your gums are healthy, and you have sufficient jawbone to support the post, then you may be a good candidate for implants. If you lack bone density, then we may be able to perform a bone graft either during the initial implant installation or as a separate surgical procedure. Your oral surgeon will advise you of your options during your initial consultation.

What Is Meant by Dental Implants?

Dental implants are lightweight titanium posts that resemble screws and they’re surgically implanted into your jawbone. Over the course of several months, your jawbone will fuse to the implant through a process known as osseointegration. When that’s complete, an abutment will be attached to the post. Lastly, your crown, which is the visible part of the implant, will be attached to the abutment. It’s usually a three-step process that involves multiple office visits over the course of several months. One reason for the extended time is that your jawbone and gums need to heal after each procedure.

Can Dental Implants Restore My Smile?

If your smile makes you unhappy because you have broken, damaged, or missing teeth, then implants are an option for restoring a beautiful smile. They’re very durable and usually last for a lifetime as long as you follow good oral hygiene practices. One implant is strong enough to hold a single tooth or several teeth that are bridged together. They’re custom-made to match the size, shape, and color of your own teeth, so no one will know that they’re not natural. Implant surgery, when performed by a qualified oral surgeon, is one of the safest dental procedures available, so don’t be concerned about the safety of getting implants.

What’s the Procedure for Installing Implants?

Your own procedure may vary due to your unique needs, but, in general, you can expect the following when you come to our office for dental implants:

  • Your surgeon will remove your damaged teeth during your initial appointment and you may receive other necessary treatments
  • We’ll perform a bone graft if you need a substantial amount of bone added
  • We’ll prep the site for the post installation and will do the bone graft if you only need a minor graft
  • We’ll install the body, which is the titanium post
  • You’ll need to allow time for healing and bone growth
  • We’ll install your abutment
  • We’ll make impressions of your teeth and gums so the dental lab can fabricate your crowns
  • We’ll install your crowns

The amount of time needed for your multi-step procedure will be determined by how complex your procedure is and how rapidly you heal.

What If I Need a Bone Graft?

Bone grafts are fairly routine adjuncts to the dental implant procedure. If you need a minor graft, then it can be done during installation of the post. If you need a more substantial amount of bone, then it will be done as a separate surgery. We can take bone from another part of your body or we can use an artificial bone material, but your surgeon will advise you of your best option for a bone graft.

How Will My Implant Be Placed?

If you’ve had a bone graft, we’ll need to wait until that has healed. Then, your surgeon will make a small incision in your gum so that the bone is exposed. Next, we’ll drill a hole in the bone so that we can place the titanium post. At this point, some patients opt to have the abutment installed, but others prefer to have a separate procedure for installation of the abutment. If you’re in the latter category, then your surgeon will suture your incision closed and the process of osseointegration will begin.

How Will My Abutment Be Placed?

When the osseointegration process is complete, your surgeon will make another incision in the gum near the post and we’ll attach your abutment. This takes about two weeks to heal. After the healing is complete, then we’ll make impressions of your teeth and gums so that we can fabricate your crowns.

How Will My Crown Be Placed?

If you’ve selected removable crowns, then you’ll receive them in pink plastic gums that you snap onto your abutment, and they’re easily removable for cleaning. If you’ve opted for fixed crowns, then we’ll make sure they fit properly and are comfortable, and then we’ll permanently affix them to your abutment.

What Will I Need to Do After My Procedure?

It’s normal for patients to experience minor discomfort after a dental procedure. You may experience minor swelling, soreness and pain, bruising and bleeding, but these are normal and shouldn’t persist for more than a few days. If they do, then call us. Your surgeon will provide you with tips on pain management and reducing the swelling, but be sure to ask us if you have any questions.

What Are the Drawbacks of Getting Implants?

The primary drawback to implants is their initial cost. One tooth can cost several thousand dollars if you require a bone graft or other procedure, and your insurance company may not cover the cost. You may also need to replace a broken crown in the future and your insurance may not cover that cost either. However, many oral surgeons offer payment options that can make the cost affordable. Another drawback is that implants require surgical procedures, which have inherent risks, such as an adverse reaction to the anesthesia, infection, damage to the surrounding teeth and jaw, nerve damage, and jaw fracture.

However, many patients find that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages and they report that their implants have lasted for decades. When considering the initial cost of dentures, the messy adhesives and cleaning solutions you’ll need, the cost to replace a broken or poor-fitting denture, and the discomfort, many patients opt for the convenience and one-time installation of implants. Implants don’t impede your speech or eating, and they won’t slip or fall out so you won’t have to worry about embarrassing incidents or not being able to speak clearly. Since they’re customized for you, the implants will look, feel, and function just like your original teeth.

Can Any Dentist Install Dental Implants?

Dental implant installation is a complex procedure that requires specialized training, education, and experience, and most general dentists aren’t qualified to install them. If you’re interested in implants, make sure you select a board-certified oral surgeon who’s willing to provide you with their credentials. If they’re not, then it’s best to look for another surgeon.

If you want implants or need any other dental procedure, please call our office to make an appointment. You can also schedule a consultation at your convenience by using our online booking tool. We strive to consistently provide our patients with the highest-quality dentistry, so contact us today. We look forward to working with you.

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